Maggots Clean Wounds Faster Than Doctors

But they don't make wounds heal any better: experts

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 20, 2011 2:40 PM CST

(Newser) – Maggots may work faster than any surgeon when it comes to cleaning large wounds that are slow to heal. Typically, doctors use scalpels and special enzymes to lift dead tissue from such wounds; researchers in France wanted to see if maggots could speed the process. They compared the two therapies on patients suffering from venous leg ulcers, keeping both groups of subjects blindfolded so they couldn't tell what kind of treatment they were getting.

Maggots are able to liquefy and digest dead tissue. After a week of the two therapies, wounds on patients who'd undergone surgical cleaning were two-thirds covered in dead tissue. Wounds belonging to patients who'd gotten the maggot treatment were just 55% covered in the tissue—and those patients felt no more of a creepy-crawly sensation than the surgical group. After two weeks, however, both groups' wound closure was equal. That "shows that maggots clean wounds more quickly than conventional treatment but with no benefit on healing," an expert tells Reuters.

Maggots may help clean wounds faster.
Maggots may help clean wounds faster.   (Shutterstock)
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